The government has argued that authorizing regulated mining in the region will curb illegal gold mining and generate new jobs. The area also contains deposits of iron and copper. The government has said it will appeal the decision.
While the appeal process plays out, regional prosecutors and members of Congress who oppose opening the area to mining are gearing up for a protracted legal and legislative struggle.
“The suspension of President Temer’s unilateral decree with its severe threats to vast Amazonian forest offers a welcome and temporary reprieve,” said Christian Poirier, the program director for Amazon Watch. “Today’s ruling upholds constitutional guarantees and puts the brakes on this drastic regression, but is ultimately vulnerable to being overruled by higher courts.”
Some Brazilian celebrities have recently inserted themselves into this and other environmental disputes. “SHAME!” the model Gisele Bündchen, who appears to have swayed Mr. Temer on a previous environmental controversy, wrote in a post on Twitter. “We’re auctioning off our Amazon.”
In June, after a plea from Ms. Bündchen on Twitter, Mr. Temer vetoed legislation that would have decreased the size of a national forest area in the Amazon. In an uncharacteristic gesture, the president responded on Twitter, announcing his veto. Last week, the issuance of the Renca executive order opening up an area the size of Denmark to mining operations drew criticism from Ms. Bündchen and other celebrities.
The future of Renca has become the latest dispute in the fight between Mr. Temer and conservationists, who say the president has become beholden to powerful political factions that represent the interests of the agricultural, ranching and mining industries.
Earlier this summer, Mr. Temer, a deeply unpopular leader, avoided standing trial on corruption charges after a majority of members of the House of Representatives voted to spare him. Those votes were widely reported to have entailed some horse trading.
Mr. Temer, who came to power last year after the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, has pared environmental protections and slashed the budgets of agencies that enforce environmental laws and combat illegal deforestation. His government has also cut the budget of the agency tasked with protecting the rights of indigenous communities.